Top Dental Hygienist Programs | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Clanton AL 35045

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Clanton 35045

dental assistant training in Clanton ALChoosing the right dental hygienist program near Clanton AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Job of Dental Assistants

Clanton dental assistant helping dentist 35045Dental assistants are an important part of any Clanton dental practice and can undertake a myriad of duties. Their principal job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of Alabama dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, such as:

  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Clanton dental hygienist treating patient in AlabamaWhen comparing the duties of a Clanton dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alabama practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Clanton area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Schools

attending dental assistant school online in Clanton homeChoosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Clanton home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the best option for you.

What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges

Questions to ask Alabama dental colleges 35045After you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the process of comparing Clanton area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alabama schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Clanton area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the college you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, most Clanton area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal school for you.

Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of Clanton area dental schools have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Clanton dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Small? Ask the Alabama schools you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 35045 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Clanton in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.

Select the Ideal Dental College near Clanton AL

Enrolling in the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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